There are over 300,000 deaths from COVID19 in the United States. In California, over 20,000 people have died. These are staggering numbers. Last year, these individuals were entering a new year with no expectation of being crippled by a mysterious virus spreading throughout the world. It is sobering to hear the daily statistics. The virus is surging, taking every available hospital bed in Los Angeles County. Since March, we have been asked to stay at home, social distance, and wear a mask to protect one another from getting exposed to the virus. While many heeded these instructions, countless did not. What could be so challenging about covering one’s face. One explanation is a psychological phenomenon called ‘psychological reactance’.
…there may also be a further psychological explanation: the phenomenon of “psychological reactance”. This is where people vehemently believe they have freedom to behave how they wish, and experience negative emotions when this freedom is threatened, and so become motivated to reinstate it. This means that when told to wear a mask and socially distance, some people may perceive their behavioural freedom to be under threat. Anger and other negative emotions then follow. To reduce these uncomfortable feelings, these individuals may then attempt to restore their freedom by not complying with the advice. Article: The Conversation.com December 9, 2020
As a person of color with a history of government and society dictating legal and illegal ‘dos and don’ts’, the psychology behind ‘not going to wear a mask’ seems fascinating. We wear seat belts. We wear helmets. What is it really with the mask? To step a bit deeper into this psychological reactance, The article in The Conversation.com defines this as “the motivational state that is hypothesized to occur when a freedom is eliminated or threatened with elimination” (Brehm and Brehm, 1981, p. 37). So, let me see, if the ‘freedom being taken’ is someone else’s then it is ok. I mean where has this ‘reaction’ been throughout our history as America has stolen and denied the right of self-determination to so many. Maybe I am mixing apples and oranges. This condition closely resembles ‘self-centeredness’ to me but of course I am not a psychologist.
If we do not get in front of this pandemic more people will die. I feel so very sad for those who already have, alone, most in hospital rooms, unable to interact with loved ones. This is inhumane and will take its toll, I promise you. I don’t know everyone who reads this blog, but my desire is to let you know, I wear a mask. I am surrounded by senior citizens. I love them very much. I will wash my hands, wear a mask, and social distance to make every effort to keep them safe.
One of my core values is found in the Gospel of Mark. Jesus is asked which of the commandments is most important. He responds, “The most important one is this: Here O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these” Mark 13:28-31. I love Jesus’ teachings. I just wished more people who are recognized as Christians would follow them more closely. Loving my neighbor is a powerful mindset. I write about it often because I believe when everyone lives this way, the world changes for the better. Today, I inconvenience myself, even though it is slight in my opinion, by wearing a mask. I move around as if I have the disease so I social distance. I change my clothes when I come in from being in public a long time. I wash my hands often. We can all live this way. This pandemic will pass, empathize with your neighbor. We all benefit when we care about one another.